GOP Chairman John Hancock offers more response to critics

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock said he wants dispel all rumors and allegations of his connection to Tom Schweich's death. 

He is accused of making anti-Semitic remarks and launching a whisper campaign against Schweich. In a press conference Thursday, Hancock said it is not in his character to do so.

"I don't consider someone's religion to be an impediment to their ability to win office, and if I had told someone that Tom Schweich was Jewish, because I thought that he was, it would not have been said in a way to say he can't get elected," Hancock said.

GOP lawmakers held a press conference earlier Thursday calling for Hancock to resign. One lawmaker said it's time to make some major changes in the Republican party.

"We're at a crossroads right now," said Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg. "There's really been no leadership from the party since the tragic suicide of Tom Schweich so changes need to be made at the top." 

Pearce said this is a time for the Republican party to re-evaluate.

"Since the funeral, there really hasn't been anything coming out of the Republican party. No suggestions on how can we change campaigns, how can we reform our campaigns, the way we elect people, some of the negative campaigns we have, and character assassinations," Pearce said. "It appears that the only thing coming out of the party right now is to save one person's job, and its much bigger than that. We can do better, and we should do better." 

Hancock said, with the recent events, now is the time to unify the party rather than divide it.

"It's disappointing to me that some fellow Republicans have jumped to conclusions before the truth could be revealed," Hancock said. "If any of these legislators were confronted with false rumors or false allegations in the future, I will be the first person to come to their defense." 

Hancock said if the state committee wants him to resign, he will do it. 

"If I just walked away from this post, I think, in the eyes of many, I would be confessing to having done something that I just simply didn't do," Hancock said. "At least to date, I've been overwhelmed with support by the state committee over the last two weeks, and I intend to do a good job for this party."

He said he intends to get the party out of debt, and take charge of the effort to get out the vote.

"As long as I am able to accomplish those goals, I am going to stay. And if I can't accomplish those goals, and someone else can accomplish them better. I will step aside for that person," Hancock said.